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Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease: The Challenges and Potential of New Biomarkers

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease:  The Challenges and Potential of New Biomarkers

Recorded 27 April 2011



Ten years or more before the classic tremors of Parkinson’s disease (PD) appear, the destruction of dopaminergic neurons in the brain’s nigrostriatal pathway is well underway. Identifying biological markers (biomarkers) of PD in its earliest stages will be crucial for early intervention with therapeutics to prevent or even reverse loss of dopaminergic neurons. Biomarkers for early PD could be used to identify patients at risk for PD or in the earliest stages of the disease and to assess the efficacy of new drugs or therapies. Biomarkers could also be used to select appropriate patients for clinical trials and to monitor disease progression or drug-induced remission in real time. So far, only one biomarker for PD called DaTscan---SPECT imaging of dopamine transporters at dopaminergic nerve terminals in the nigrostriatal pathway---has been approved by the FDA. Given the number of patients with PD (~1 million in the United States and ~5 million worldwide), developing new biomarkers for detecting the earliest stages of this disease is imperative if new drugs and treatments are to be developed.

This Webinar is organized by Science/AAAS and Science Translational Medicine, in association with the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

The Webinar will be moderated by Dr. Todd Sherer, Chief Program Officer of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

During this live webinar event our four distinguished panelists will:

  •     Explain the need for biomarkers for detecting early PD and how these biomarkers can be used in drug development and clinical trials
  •     Provide an overview of promising new biological and neuroimaging markers
  •     Discuss the challenges and bottlenecks in the development of new biomarkers for PD and the role of the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI).
  •     Answer your questions LIVE on air!

T. B. Sherer, Biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease. Sci.

Transl. Med. 3, 79ps14 (2011).

Speaker bios

Norbert Schuff, Ph.D.

University of California and VA Medical Center, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

Norbert Schuff, Ph.D., is a medical physicist and professor of radiology at the University of California in San Francisco, investigator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and lead physicist at the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco. Dr. Schuff's research interests have focused on the development of improved magnetic resonance imaging methods to study the aging brain and on the detection of imaging markers for neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease. Dr. Schuff has published more than 160 peer-reviewed articles and 30 book chapters. His research has been funded by the National Institute of Health, the Alzheimer's Association, and the Department of Defense. His awards include a research fellowship from the National Polish Academy of Science and the Friedrich Merz Foundation visiting professorship in Neuroradiology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.

Michael G. Schlossmacher, M.D., FRCPC

University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario

The goal of Dr. Michael Schlossmacher's work as a physician-scientist is to contribute to the improved care of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. In 1988, following graduation from medical school in Vienna, Austria, a Fulbright Commission scholarship enabled Dr. Schlossmacher to visit Harvard University. In the laboratory of Dr. Dennis Selkoe, he studied the molecular pathology of Alzheimer's disease. In 1995, following residency training in general medicine in Vienna, Dr. Schlossmacher completed adult neurology training in the Harvard Longwood Neurology Program and a clinical fellowship in the subspecialty of movement disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women's Hospital. Since 2000, Dr. Schlossmacher has focused his research activities on Parkinson’s disease, first under the mentorship of Drs. Dennis Selkoe, Ken Kosik, and Peter Lansbury, and then, as of 2003, as an independent investigator at the Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. In January 2004, he was appointed Assistant Professor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. In late 2006, Dr. Schlossmacher moved to the University of Ottawa in Canada. His laboratory is currently pursuing two complementary goals: to contribute to the development of biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease (PD), and to identify and validate targets for cause-directed treatment of PD.

Andrew Siderowf, M.D., MSCE

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA

Andrew Siderowf, M.D., MSCE is an associate professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He received his M.D. from the Duke University School of Medicine. Following residency training in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Siderowf completed a fellowship at the University of Rochester in Movement Disorders and Experimental Therapeutics. Dr. Siderowf received a K-08 award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to study quality of life outcomes in Parkinson’s disease. He is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke through Penn’s Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson’s Disease Research to study functional outcomes in patients with Parkinson’s disease and co-occurring dementia. Dr. Siderowf is a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics and a fellow of the University of Pennsylvania Institute on Aging. His research interests include clinical evaluation of biomarkers and assessment of patient oriented outcome measures for clinical trials. 

Kenneth Marek, M.D.

Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders
New Haven, CT

Dr. Kenneth Marek is president and senior scientist at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders. He also serves as principal investigator of the Parkinson Progression Marker Initiative, an international consortium to identify Parkinson’s disease progression markers. His specific interest has been in vivo neuroreceptor imaging. Dr. Marek has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including those from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Michael J. Fox Foundation, and National Parkinson's Foundation. He serves on the scientific advisory board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and has served on the executive committee of the Parkinson's Study Group and in leadership roles in the Huntington Study Group. Dr. Marek was a co- founder of Molecular NeuroImaging, LLC, a company providing clinical neuroimaging research services and continues to lead several ongoing multi-center international studies investigating the use of imaging to assess the onset, progression, and effect of treatment in Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. He has authored numerous neurology and neuroscience publications.

Todd Sherer, Ph.D.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
New York, NY

Dr. Todd Sherer, Ph.D., joined the Michael J. Fox Foundation as an associate director of Research Programs in April 2004; he was promoted to vice president of Research Programs in June 2006, and chief program officer in November 2010. As chief program officer, he leads a team that proactively manages the world's largest privately funded Parkinson's disease research portfolio. Every year, this team reviews up to 800 grant proposals to fund approximately $50 million in Parkinson's research, with a strong focus on preclinical therapeutic development and clinical research. At any given time, Dr. Sherer's team manages up to 300 active grants, working closely with academic and industry scientists to help speed promising new discoveries from research labs to pharmacy shelves. In addition to research funding, Dr. Sherer's team leads an effort to engage the pharmaceutical industry in Parkinson's disease drug development and encourage and expand subject participation in clinical research. Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Sherer was a respected Parkinson's disease bench researcher with over 30 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

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